Lompoc H Street Road Closed

Crews work to repair the railroad on Laurel Avenue at North H Street in Lompoc in 2017.

Lompoc City Council members on April 6 discussed the need for street, alley and road improvements citywide before adopting a five-year program of projects that secures a projected $15.2 million in Measure A funding.

“Most of the alleyways are in neighborhoods where they’re already impacted by a million other things and, on top of that, I’ve driven some of the alleyways in this town and they’re horrible in condition. I’m not saying that’s staff’s fault. I’m saying that we need to be more responsible and at least try to … start dropping some money in the bucket,” said Councilwoman Gilda Cordova.

To secure state funding, cities must adopt their program of projects. That plan must include using 15% of Measure A funds on alternative transportation.

According to the adopted resolution, the city will spend at least $1,813,643 of local discretionary funding for its 130 miles of streets, roads and alleys in order to comply with Measure A. Those revenues will not replace private developer funding that has been committed to a transportation project or would otherwise be required under current city policies.

Assistant Public Works Director and City Engineer Craig Dierling said Measure A provides a critical funding source for city infrastructure at 40% of the street maintenance revenue. Other funding sources include the state gas tax, SB1 and the city’s discretionary fund.

Currently, the city’s pavement conditions rated a score of 55 where 72 is the target. That pavement condition index was up from 53 in 2017 but well below 66 in 2010, Dierling reported.

“Road needs exceed available revenues, so we have already significantly reduced operations including staffing and other measures, … but without adequate operations, the daily immediate needs can’t be met, and without capital, the condition of infrastructure continues to decline,” Dierling said.

He said the current city budget for road maintenance sits at about $2 million, which should hold current road conditions if not provide slight improvement. He also noted that, in a study he performed some time ago, Lompoc doesn’t “pay nearly as much (toward road maintenance) as most cities pay from their general fund, and that’s because we don’t have the extra money.”

As the city heads into its budget cycle, Cordova implored council members to consider the need for long-term improvements.

Cost savings resulting from cuts to staffing and services “really don't benefit the community at all,” Cordova said. “I have yet to see a department or division that has benefited from all the years of cutting, cutting, cutting, cutting. If we can start dropping a few dollars into the buckets and start creating those buckets, that is what we really need to start thinking about because just simply saying we don’t have the money is not responsible. There’s so many holes on the ship, I can’t even plug them all anymore.”

Councilman Jeremy Ball also requested staff and council to reconsider how alleyway maintenance historically has been played down. He noted that, particularly in communities where residences have no driveways, those alleys serve as primary access to many homes.

In other action, the City Council adopted, without further discussion, an ordinance allowing property owners to be cited with a misdemeanor when illegal fireworks are possessed, discharged, sold or otherwise used on that property, whether or not the owner was present at the time “regardless of the intent, knowledge, or negligence of the person in control of the property.” In the case of leased properties, the lessee may be held responsible rather than the property owner.

Property owners may avoid the penalty of up to six months in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, plus the city’s own attorney’s fees related to the penalty if the owner reports the illegal activity to the Lompoc Police Department, Lompoc Fire Department or City Code Enforcement. Citations may be passed down to tenants if the property owner provides contact information and a copy of the lease agreement, among other details.

In addition, if a citation is issued directly to the tenant, a copy will be sent to the property owner.

Neither council nor staff responded to a request by Shawndell Malcolm who presented a petition signed by 771 people demanding body-worn cameras for Lompoc police officers.

“This not only helps the citizens of Lompoc, it also helps protect the police officers. This is way past overdue, so I want to know what it’s going to take this City Council to put this on the agenda and vote on it,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm said Lompoc police officers wore body cameras until 2013 when the program was suspended.

“Every year since then this topic has been brought up and it’s been pushed aside. We still don’t have body-worn cameras. It has now been eight years and we have had multiple police officer-involved shootings, the last one being March 26 of Krys Ruiz where he was killed,” Malcolm said.

While the council cannot directly discuss items directly from public comment, council members have their own reporting period during which they may request any item to be placed on an agenda.

In other action

In other action, the council appointed several residents to a variety of commissions including: Dan Badertscher and Fedrico Cioni to the Planning Commission; Johnny Hudson, Roberta Badertscher and Lillian Street to the Public Safety Commission; Robert Holloway to the Utility Commission; Mary-Michelle Moore to the Library Commission as an at-large member; and Donald “Jeff” Palmer to the Airport Commission as an at-large member. 

The city continues seeking applicants for a variety of positions including: two seats on the Parks and Recreation Commission (District 2 and District 3); two positions for the Utility Commission (Districts 2 and 3), one Public Safety Commission seat (District 1), one Planning Commission seat (District 3) and one seat (District 1) on the Beautification Commission.

The council also voted unanimously to:

— Purchase five transit buses from A to Z Bus Sales for $759,054.42;

— File for California Transportation Development Act funding to keep COLT up and running ($2.2 million), provide for regional transportation planning staff ($54,201) and provide for pedestrian and bicycle facilities ($36,872);

— Award contract for Lance, Soll & Lunghard LLP for annual audits of city finances at an expense not to exceed $148,384 for three years with two optional years not to exceed $103,935;

— Recognize the city’s Electric Division and support staff for earning the Reliable Public Power Provider Diamond Designation and;

— Approve the Floradale Crossing Sewer Line Directional Drill Project to allow for the installation of two inverted siphon sewer lines up to 12 inches below the Santa Ynez River. The double system provides redundancy in the new sewer line addition connecting Vandenberg Village to the Lompoc Regional Wastewater Reclamation Plant.

The original lines, installed in 1974, were unearthed during heavy winter runoff in the late 1970s. A new line was mounted under Floradale Bridge and has remained in service. In light of planned bridge upgrades, staff has determined maintaining a new exposed line would be more costly than the underground option. 

Costs associated with the relocation and maintenance of the sewer line connection will be paid by the Vandenberg Village Community Services District.